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Sri Lanka marks Independence Day with Buddhist blessings and military parade

The new Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, marked the anniversary of the state's independence from British colonial rule with a ceremony with the Buddhist clergy and a military parade.

Paying tribute to the military, Mr Sirisena praised the military victory of 2009, led by the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In his address, Mr Sirisena said:

"The light of freedom, which remained covered under the shadow of terrorism, began to shine again after the eradication of the brutality of terrorism by the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Year 2009. Although our sovereignty and territorial integrity was retained by this, the need to proceed further towards national unity through genuine amity and friendship among people is a task that needs achievement. Just as the land was united, it remains necessary to join all Sri Lankans with the bonds of unity."

"As we celebrate the gaining of Independence, today, we recognize our bounden duty to give all honour and respect to the members of the Security Forces who made great sacrifices to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity in the battle against terrorism."

The Buddhist ceremony was a "National Religious Event to Commemorate Independence Day under the Patronage of the President", Mr Sirisena's official Facebook page stated.

The event was attended by the TNA's M A Sumanthiran and TNA leader, R Sampanthan. However, it was boycotted by the chief minister of the Northern Province, C V Wigneswaran, who said he would not attend until the Tamil people were free.